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November,07 2017

The Anniversary Sub: Decoded

Baselworld 2003, Rolex decide to take the unprecedented step of launching their very first Anniversary model to celebrate 50 years of the Submariner. The reference 16610LV proudly sported a bright green bezel and special Maxi-Dial with larger lume plots, however in typical Rolex fashion, the model underwent several incremental changes throughout its short 7 year production run that make it incredibly attractive in the eyes of Rolex collectors.
Here is a breakdown of what you should be looking for…

The package

The early years of production (until late 2004) saw Rolex packaging the 16610LV models in the green leather boxes (code 64.00.02) and included a holographic punched paper certificate, chronometre tag, swing tag, anchor, bezel protector (often retained by the retailer), Rolex Submariner ‘cave diver’ booklet, Your Rolex Oyster booklet, translation booklet, green wallet and calendar card. The caseback bore the famous green holographic sticker.

As with all things Rolex there are little overlaps and regional variations (USA ephemera was quite a different package) but from 2005 the watches were packed in the new style ‘green wave’ box with pale green lining, padded insert and pale green cardboard outer with white dust jacket. By the end of production, the goodies accompanying the watch were the red chronometre tag, green swing tag Submariner booklet, service mondial booklet, new style horizontal wallet and the anti-counterfeit credit card style guarantee card with UV elements.

“For ease of classification, we have divided the watch into its 3 main components: the bezel, the dial, and of course the case...”
The bezels

The bezels: divided into two main groups, ‘Fat Four’ and ‘Pointed Four’, with the early ‘Fat Four’ bezels only in production for a few months, appearing on watches up to serial number F54.

B1: Fat Four “Serifed”, the inside of the four in ‘40’ is squared at the top but all the numbers with internal angles have very sharp, pronounced serifs in the classic Rolex style. The bezel is of a slightly lighter, olive green than the bezels that follow. (nicknamed Bertolli).
B2: Fat Four “non serif” with the same characteristic shape to the top of the 4 but all the numbers are printed without serifs.

B3: Pointed 4, thin font, “Soft 5”, 4 comes to a narrow point, the internal corners of the five of ‘50’ are gently rounded. Bezels are like the early ‘olive’ green (this example has since faded further).
B4: Pointed 4, “Square 5”, with the narrow pointed 4, but the internal corners of the five in ‘50’ are perfectly square. Bezels are a dark racing green.
B5: Pointed 4, “Soft 5”, the 4 comes to a narrow point, the internal corners of the five of ‘50’ are gently rounded. Bezels are a dark, almost racing green.

The dials

The dials: The six known configurations that left the Rolex factory can be divided into two main groups: the ‘Oval O’ and the ‘Round O’ configurations depending on the shape of the ‘O’ in Rolex. All are Maxi-Dials with larger plots than the standard 16610 and all utilise green-glowing Super Luminova.

D1: ‘Oval O’ in Rolex.
-Widely spaced ‘Oyster Perpetual Date’ signature where the ‘R’ of Oyster sits between the legs of the ‘R’ in Rolex
-Wide ‘Swiss Made’ with 5 shortened minute markers underneath its entire length

D2: ‘Oval O’ in Rolex.
-Narrow spaced ‘Oyster Perpetual Date’ signature where the ‘R’ of Oyster sits under the right leg of the ‘R’ in Rolex.
-Narrow ‘Swiss Made’ with 5 shortened minute markers, 3 of which are underneath

D3: ‘Round O’ in Narrow Rolex.
-Narrow spaced ‘Oyster Perpetual Date’ signature where the ‘R’ of Oyster sits between the legs of the ‘R’ in Rolex.
-Narrow ‘Swiss Made’ with 5 shortened minute markers, 3 of which are underneath

D4: ‘Round O’ in Narrow Rolex.
-Narrow spaced ‘Oyster Perpetual Date’ signature where the ‘R’ of Oyster sits between the legs of the ‘R’ in Rolex.
-Narrow ‘Swiss Made’ with 3 shortened minute markers, 28 and 32 markers have been lengthened again so the ‘Swiss Made’ looks nicely tucked into bed

D5: Round O’ in Narrow Rolex.
-Narrow spaced ‘Oyster Perpetual Date’ signature where the ‘R’ of Oyster sits between the legs of the ‘R’ in Rolex.
-Narrow ‘Swiss Made’ with 3 shortened minute markers, 28 and 32 markers have been lengthened again so the ‘Swiss Made’ is tucked in.
-The word ‘Officially’ is spaced wider, with the gap between it and ‘Certified’ much reduced so that the ‘Y’ almost cups the ‘C’ above it.

D6: Service Dial, although potentially correct for some Random serial/G series. The dial is of the modern ‘ceramic’ Submariner, attention to the very small ‘ft’ in the depth rating.

A variation has been observed by certain Italian scholars that was designated 1b, which is identical to the Mark I but with a narrow ‘Swiss’ signature. There only appears to be one image of the watch and is not one we have personally verified, so should a correct one come through our hands we will of course photograph and catalogue it here...

The cases

The cases: production versions fall into 2 categories but we have included the prototype case originally displayed at Baselworld in 2003.

C0: Almost mythical but the official press release and publicity shots confirm its existence. It is rumoured that six were produced and are the only 16610LV Submariners to feature drilled lugs of the preceding Submariner case.

C1: The first production LV’s featured the new ‘T’ case with solid lugs and the model number 16610T engraved between the lugs, with “T” standing for “Trou Borgne”, or “blind hole”. It is important to note that the model number engraved on the case does NOT have the suffix LV. The serial number is engraved between the lugs at six o’clock in the traditional Rolex style.

C2: In 2008 the serial number moves to the rehaut ring with the ‘Rolex Rolex Rolex’ engraving. The model number remains between the lugs at 12. The very last examples are with a randomised serial number.

“The most valuable and sought after of the anniversary Subs are from the very first series produced in 2003, with serial numbers beginning with ‘Y’... ”
The Watches

The earliest known so far begin ‘Y94’ so very few were produced before the serial numbers changed to ‘F’ but ‘Fat Four’ examples with serial numbers below F54 are the grail watches of the LV family.

With the launch of the 116610 Cerachrom Submariner, the Maxi-Dial became part of the standard production and the earlier D2 dials that we believe were reserved for future service parts were no longer required and were used in some of the final LV models to leave the factory.
The very final pieces were engraved with random serial numbers and in the future we can expect these final ‘random’ models to appreciate faster than the other ‘pointed four’ models.


Mark I: Serial Y94-F54
Case: C1
Dial: D1
Bezel: B1 or B2

Mark II: Serial Y94-F54
Case: C1
Dial: D2
Bezel: B1 or B2

Mark III: Serial F55- D4
Case: C1
Dial: D1
Bezel: B3 or B4

Mark IV: Serial F55- D4
Case: C1
Dial: D2
Bezel: B3 or B4

Mark V: Serial D4 - M
Case: C1
Dial: D3
Bezel: B3 or B4

Mark VI: Serial D4 - M
Case: C1
Dail: D4
Bezel: B4 or B5

Mark VII: From M series
Case: C2
Dial: D4
Bezel: B4 or B5

Mark VIII: From M series
Case: C2
Dial: D5
Bezel: B4 or B5

Mark IX: From M series
Case: C2
Dial: D2
Bezel: B4 or B5

Credits: Chris Youé and Stefano Tegoni

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